Poland wrestles with its past — and present

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tags: Poland, Xenophobia

... The role of Poles in the Holocaust remains an exposed nerve in this country. In August, the Polish cabinet approved a new law punishing anyone convicted of using the term “Polish death camps” with three years in jail. “Our responsibility is to defend the truth and dignity of the Polish state and the Polish nation, as well as our fathers, our mothers and our grandparents,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said. For Ziobro and the other members of his right-wing, nationalist government, the history of the Second World War is black and white — the Poles were victims and heroic resisters of their Nazi occupiers, full stop.

But historians like Princeton University Prof. Jan T Gross have revealed a picture with more streaks of grey, in which Poles — in some terrible cases at least — were complicit in the Holocaust.

That history is especially important today, he says, as Eastern Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the 1940s.

Instead of helping fleeing Syrian refugees, Poland has shut its doors, as have Hungary and Slovakia. After the terrorist attacks in Brussels last March, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo announced Poland would break its EU commitment to resettle some 7,000 refugees. And in the wake of the Nice attack, Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak praised her party’s decision to “stand firm” against migrants. ...

Read entire article at Toronto Star

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